Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law officially opened its solo practice incubator with a ribbon-cutting ceremony February 4. The grand opening commemorated the first law school-based incubator in Ohio, and one of approximately 10 throughout the United States.
“This project speaks to the energy, creativity and imagination of the law school,” said CSU President Ronald M. Berkman in his grand opening remarks.
Recent Cleveland-Marshall graduates looking to start careers as legal entrepreneurs will be housed in a state-of-the-art, newly constructed office space situated in what was previously a section of the school’s law library. Each practitioner will establish his or her own private law practice over a two-year period in the practice area of their choosing.
“We offer students the resources to explore solo practice as a viable, chosen career path early in their law school education, and we are now able to provide them with affordable office space close to the courts and our law library once they graduate,” said Cleveland-Marshall Dean Craig Boise. “While our graduates have a thorough understanding of the law, they might not have the background necessary for starting their own business. We believe the programming and resources the incubator offers will bridge that educational gap.”
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Incoming occupants will be provided with low-cost resources, including office space, business services and office amenities, including access to the Dan McCarthy Conference Room, funded through a gift from McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., LPA and the McCarthy family. Through a partnership with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, reduced-cost health and liability insurance and vendor discounts will also be available to the practitioners.
Beyond the monetary advantages, occupants will benefit from substantial guidance in the practical management of their firms and the handling of their cases. The school’s Solo Practice Advisory Council will host frequent presentations and workshops by local lawyers, service providers and others. The incubator will also have a designated coordinator who will be available as a resource for guidance and troubleshooting, and will hold regular workshops to discuss management and related matters.
“I am thrilled to work with the tenants, and am especially looking forward to seeing growth in their practices,” said Ashley Jones ’11, a criminal defense attorney in solo practice, who will serve as the incubator’s coordinator. “With recent experience going through the exciting time these new lawyers will be facing, I believe I can offer the kind of guidance and assistance that would have been invaluable to me when I was starting my own practice. In addition to our regular discussions and programming, I will be available to answer their questions at any time.”
While tenants’ success is the primary goal, the incubator is also expected to make positive contributions to Cleveland-Marshall students and the larger community. This incubator is just a part of the school’s rapid move toward practice-oriented, experience-based training. As the incubator develops, ways to integrate current law students into its operations will be explored, including involving students in clinic work and externship programs.
In addition, the incubator is expected to have a positive impact on the broader community, as resident lawyers will be encouraged to take advantage of overhead savings to provide legal service to clients who do not qualify for legal aid but are unable to pay the legal fees charged by larger firms.
Cleveland-Marshall is now accepting applications for occupancy from the school’s recent graduates, with applications being reviewed on a rolling basis.